Thursday, May 30, 2013

8 Tips for Recycling at Work

There was a time when recycling just wasn't a priority for most people. But with increased awareness of its environmental benefits and greater access to recycling facilities, many households are making it a point to recycle anything they can. This has made a huge impact on usage of energy and natural resources.

Businesses, on the other hand, have not taken to recycling like individual consumers have. Manufacturing operations often recycle scraps in order to save money, but they often fail to recycle things that they themselves can't reuse. And other businesses frequently do not recycle anything at all.

English: Recycling Português: Reciclagem
Recycling Bins. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Businesses may be reluctant to start recycling programs because they do not want to use company resources to administer them. It's often up to employees to suggest recycling, and they may even have to volunteer to oversee it. If you're interested in starting a recycling program at your workplace, here are some tips to help make it a reality.

1. Schedule a meeting with your boss. If you just mention recycling in passing, there's a good chance you'll be ignored. But if you set up a meeting and make a convincing presentation, your boss is more likely to take you seriously. If you can get some co-workers to help you out, that's even better.

2. Point out the benefits for the company. Recycling can save your company money, and it can enhance its image as a responsible corporate citizen. These are the types of arguments that those in charge are most likely to listen to.

3. Prepare a plan for recycling. Research recycling service providers, and come up with some ideas about how to operate the program. Your boss will have the final say, but if you do some of the legwork for him, he is more likely to give his approval.

4. Volunteer to help get things rolling. If you're willing to aid in setting up a recycling program, that's one less thing your boss has to deal with.

Once you've gotten approval, you'll need to spread awareness and make sure that as much waste as possible is recycled. Here are some suggestions that will help.

English: Recycling bin
Recycling bin sign. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
6. Make sure employees understand what can and cannot be recycled. Have a meeting to discuss this and answer any questions if possible. If not, send out an email with guidelines and make yourself available to those with questions.

7. Post recycling rules in a conspicuous place. It's easy to forget what is and isn't recyclable. Making that information readily available will increase participation rates.

8. Place recycling containers in convenient places, and mark them clearly. Those who can recycle without giving it much thought are more likely to do so than those who have to seek out containers.

Recycling at work is good for the environment and your company. It may, however, take some convincing to get the approval of the higher-ups. But if you make a solid case and do everything you can to help get a recycling program going, it will be hard for them to say no.

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Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Recycling 101 - How, Why and What to Recycle

Most of us want to recycle.  However, understanding what’s recyclable and what isn’t can be overwhelming.  Some communities offer support including bins to sort your items in and clear definitions about what is acceptable.  Yet other communities leave their residents more or less alone to figure it out for themselves.  Regardless, here’s the low-down on how to understand recycling and what to do with those extras like cell phones, paint cans and computers.

What is Recyclable?

Essentially just about everything is recyclable however, most recycling programs divide items into four main categories:

* Paper
* Plastic
* Metal
* Glass

Paper items include newspapers, magazines, paper bags, books, cardboard and cardstock.  Just about any type of paper can be recycled and most programs do not limit types of paper however, some do not take cardboard or glossy magazines - check with your local recycling program to be sure.

Plastic is typically where it gets confusing.  Here’s a basic rundown of plastic types and how they’re labeled for recycling.

Resin identification code 4 for low density po...
Resin identification code 4 for low density polyethylene (LDPE) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
1. PET (polyethylene terephthalate): Soda and water bottles are made from this type of plastic.

2. HDPE (high-density polyethylene): Milk, juice and detergent bottles are made from this type of plastic. 

3. PVC (polyvinyl chloride): Plumbing pipe, shower curtains, and some plastic toys and infant materials.

4. LDPE (low-density polyethylene): Grocery bags and food wrap are made from this plastic

5. PP (polypropylene): Many food storage containers are made from this type of plastic.

6. PS (polystyrene): Also called Styrofoam, this plastic is used to make take out containers, cups and packing materials.

7. Other: Anything labeled 7 cannot be recycled.  This includes many squeezable bottles, older reusable water bottles and dishes.  This type of plastic leaches Bisphenol A, which is toxic and best not to be used anyway. 

Metal items include tin food cans, which commonly hold tomatoes, beans, and other vegetables, as well as soda cans and coffee cans.

Glass items include any glass bottles or jars. However, some recycling programs only take certain colors of glass, or may require the colors to be sorted separately, so check with your local area recyclers if unsure.

English: glass and plastic (bottles) recycling...
Glass and plastic (bottles) recycling in Poland.(Photo credit: Wikipedia)
For those extra items like cell phones and computers or items like paint cans or car batteries, check with your local recycling center to find out if they offer special drop off days.  If they do not, often you can find recycling businesses in your community.  They may charge a small fee but it’s better than tossing them into a landfill.  Online you’ll also find many companies that will actually pay you for your used cell phones and computers. 

Preparing Items For Recycling

The steps to recycle and to prepare your items are easy. In most all cases, you need to simply wash them.  Don’t worry, you don’t have to scrub them clean, a simple rinsing will get the job done.

Remove caps from plastic and glass items.  They’re not recyclable - unless you have a specific source that you know will take them.

Recycling is a relatively easy way to be environmentally conscious.  If your community doesn’t offer curbside service then a sorting bin and a monthly trip to the recycling center while you’re running other errands will get the job done without too much time and effort.  Don’t let recycling intimidate you, it’s easy and well worth the effort.

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Thursday, May 23, 2013

Energy-Saving Indoor and Outdoor Lighting Choices

It’s amazing how much it costs to light a home inside and out.  And there is a bigger cost than just the money you’re spending on electricity and bulbs. There is also an environmental cost to producing all of that electricity.  Let’s take a look at seven energy-saving indoor and outdoor lighting tips.

An electric residential lighting dimmer switch...
An electric residential lighting dimmer switch. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
#1.  One of the easiest ways to conserve energy is to invest in a dimmer.  If you don’t need all 100 watts blasting, then a dimmer can reduce the amount of energy pulled from a light fixture.  Great places to put a dimmer are in bathrooms, kitchens and dining rooms and even in your living room if you use overhead lighting.

#2.  100 watts isn’t always best.  Choose your lighting by the room.  Some rooms need lots of bright lighting, say over your vanity for example; you want to be able to see your face clearly before you put on make-up or shave.  However, you probably don’t need high voltage fixtures in your closet.

#3.  Compact fluorescent bulbs.  CFL bulbs cost a bit more per bulb; however, they last ten times longer than the average incandescent and they use less energy.  A single CFL bulb can save over $30 in electricity costs over the life of the bulb and it saves 2,000 times its own weight in carbon emissions.

#4.  Motion sensors.  These are great for outdoor lighting because they turn on only when there is movement.  They’re perfect for porch lights, over the garage and even on your back patio or walkway. 

A CFL light bulb, on a wall, in a black lanter...
A CFL light bulb. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
#5.  Solar lighting.  Solar lighting is another great option for both indoor and outdoor lighting.  Solar panels can be used to provide energy to internal lighting.  And outdoors, solar lights can be used to light walkways, porches, pools, fountains and other outdoor features.

#6.  Passive solar is a no-cost lighting solution.  Passive solar means letting the sun light your home.  Whether it’s through strategically placed windows, skylights or solar tubes, the sun can do a tremendous job of lighting your home for free.

#7.  Use timers on vacation.  Finally, timers are a great way to have lights turn on and off when you’re away.  Many people, when they go on vacation, leave the lights on.  Instead of wasting all that money and energy, put lights on a timer. 

Just incorporating a few of these energy-saving indoor and outdoor lighting tips can cut your energy bill in half each year.  Enjoy the savings and your contribution to a greener planet.

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Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Kitchen Refit – Making Your Kitchen Greener

Are you thinking of going green in your kitchen? Maybe you have already gone green in your cooking or other lifestyle habits and want to extend that to the kitchen. Whatever your reasons, here are some ideas for ways you can make your kitchen green.

Remodel Your Kitchen

This is the big one! If you are able, this is a fabulous way to green your kitchen. Here are some things to look at when you remodel.

English: Compact fluorescent light bulb
Compact fluorescent light bulb (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
* Lighting - When you remodel, you can arrange for more eco-friendly lighting. Skylights are ideal, but you can also make the most efficient use of energy-efficient lighting such as CFLs (compact fluorescent lights) or LEDs (light emitting diodes). And a remodel can also open up space and let in more light from the existing windows.

* Appliances - Replacing your old appliances with energy-efficient ones helps your green efforts. Before tossing out your old appliances, though, make sure they really are less efficient. If not, then it would be less wasteful and worthwhile to have them refurbished. If you do decide to discard your old appliances, donate them to Habitat for Humanity or other charitable organizations.

* Flooring - Choose natural, sustainable flooring material like cork, bamboo, mango wood, linoleum (not to be confused with synthetic vinyl flooring), or eucalyptus wood. Natural tiles are also good choices, as are tiles made from recycled rubber. Be sure to dispose of your old flooring responsibly - contact your solid waste authority to see if it can be recycled or donated. 

* Countertops - There are lots of green options for countertops. You can do mosaic tops on your existing counters, or replace them entirely with something eco-friendly like PaperStone or mango wood. Again, donate or recycle your old countertops.

A small, modern kitchen with popular stainless...
(Photo credit: Wikipedia)
* Green Extras - If you remodel your kitchen, you can arrange to have a worm compost bin built right in, as well as convenient recycling containers.

Save Water

We use a lot of water in the kitchen. Go green by saving water in the kitchen - install low-flow aerators or faucets, pre-rinse your dishes in a sink full of water rather than under running water, and turn off the water when you are scrubbing pots and pans. If possible, use rain water to rinse dishes. And when you rinse vegetables and fruits, use a pan of water and then pour the water on your plants in your sustainable garden.

Save Energy

Little things can add up to make your kitchen greener. Even if you have energy-efficient appliances, that doesn't mean it's acceptable to waste. For example, don't hold the refrigerator door open, and don't open the oven when something is cooking inside. And last but not least, only run your dishwasher when it is full.
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Thursday, May 16, 2013

Video - Eating the Right Type of Fiber to Detoxify Your Body

This informative video discusses the different types of fiber and how they are both important and work together to clear toxins from the body, and improve overall health in a number of ways. Eating both types of fiber is important, but you don't have to work that hard to include more fiber in your diet. Eating a wide variety of whole foods like vegetables, fruits, and whole grains every day will easily provide you with all the fiber you need for optimal health. (But beware of processed foods claiming to contain "whole grains" - these are often loaded with sugar and other unhealthy substances, and the amount of actual whole grains may actually be minimal.)

Interestingly, he also discusses how different seasonal foods naturally have the proper balance of the right kinds of fiber for your body during each different season. Check it out!

Eat the Right Fiber
/HomeDetox Eat the Right Fiber You have heard of the h...

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Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Fiber - A Supernutrient

We all know we’re supposed to eat a diet rich in fiber.  Despite this basic knowledge, many people are confused by what fiber is and how to get it.  And because a large percentage of the nation has or is cutting back on carbohydrates, they’re also cutting back on fiber.  As fiber helps rid the body of toxins, among other important functions, this is definitely a health concern.

Wheat bran
Wheat bran - high in fiber. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
What Is Fiber?

Dietary fiber is essentially a non-digestible carbohydrate; your body cannot break it down and digest it.  Dietary fiber is divided into two main categories: soluble or insoluble

Insoluble fiber doesn’t dissolve in water and therefore moves through the bowel without any type of breakdown.  Due to this, it promotes the movement of material through your digestive system and increases stool bulk.  The result is regular stools and a constant removal of build-up in the intestines. 

Soluble fiber forms a gel when mixed with liquid, while insoluble fiber does not. Insoluble fiber passes through our intestines largely intact.  It helps lower blood cholesterol and glucose levels, and also carries toxins out of your body.

So how much soluble and insoluble fiber should you be taking?

Despite the fact that the average American's daily intake of fiber is about 5 to 14 grams per day, adult women should consume 25 grams of fiber a day and men should consume 38 grams a day.

Whole-wheat flour, wheat bran, nuts and many vegetables are good sources of insoluble fiber, while oats, peas, beans, apples, citrus fruits, carrots, barley and psyllium are a good source of soluble fiber.

Great Sources of Fiber and How to Get Enough

English: Picture of Val Beans (Dolichos lablab).
Beans. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
In order to make sure you’re getting enough fiber, it’s important to understand what foods to get it from.  Great sources of fiber include:

* Green leafy vegetables
* Whole grains
* Seeds & Nuts
* Dried beans and peas
* Fruits
* Vegetables
* Psyllium husk

¼ cup of almonds, for example, contains 2.4 grams of fiber and a medium apple contains 4 grams.  So one small snack of almonds and an apple contains about 1/4 of a woman’s daily fiber requirements.  To get a meal that packs a real fiber punch, add beans.  A cup of baked beans contains 16 grams of fiber; that’s more than half of your daily requirement!  And whole grains like buckwheat, bran, bulgur and oats contain a significant amount of fiber.  Leafy greens are good too; a cup of cooked spinach has 7 grams of fiber. 

To make sure you’re consuming your daily fiber requirement, make sure you have at least one serving of whole grains, beans and healthy snacks like raw fruits and veggies and nuts.  (All of these whole foods also have many other healthy nutrients in them as well.) A little fiber with each snack and meal should be enough to keep your body running optimally, reduce your toxic load, and stay healthy.

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